July! The sun’s blazing, barbecues are flaming and every patch of London grass has been occupied by groups of pale-legged beer-swiggers. What better time of year, then, to sit in a darkened room and watch cheap, work-in-progress comedy shows?
Next month, most of London’s comedy community decamps to Scotland to follow hopes and dreams at the Edinburgh Fringe. But before then, Londoners get the chance to catch comics’ brand new solo shows for next to nothing from the comfort of a pub basement or fringe theatre. Lucky us!
All over the capital venues and spaces are being taken over by comedians with their fresh, new jokes. Take the Old Queen’s Head in Islington, for example. The superb Laugh Out London team is running a week-long preview festival (July 17-24) and the double bills are all top quality. Catch John Kearns, Nick Helm, Sara Pascoe, Tim Key (pictured) and lots more.
Nearby comedy pub The Bill Murray has plenty of previews on offer over the month, including smart stand-up Dane Baptiste (July 11), Radio 4 regular Sarah Kendall (July 20) and Australian talent Tom Ballard (July 26 and 27).
Still in Islington (what is it about Corbyn’s constituency that’s so funny?), the Pleasance Theatre boasts work-in-progress shows all month, with highlights including ace stand-ups Ed Gamble and Annie McGrath (July 21) and the brilliantly silly Funz and Gamez (July 23).
Up the road in Tufnell Park, the Aces & Eights is hosting three previews a night, including fearless stunt comic Luke McQueen (July 10-16) and uncompromising stand-up Sean McLoughlin (July 18-23).
South of the river – finally! – Greenwich’s Up the Creek hosts double bills on Wednesdays and Sundays (July 26’s line-up of truth-telling stand-up Fin Taylor and effortlessly funny sketch trio Gein’s Family Giftshop is our top tip). Battersea Arts Centre welcomes comics throughout the month, including mischievous prop-comic Spencer Jones (July 22).
With all that lot performing in London within one month, it’s the closest thing to being hooked up to an IV of funny – an intravenous quip, if you will.